Many people are realizing that breast cancer isn't just a woman's disease. For the first time, it's getting official statewide recognition: Gov. Chris Christie has proclaimed Oct. 21-27 as Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week in New Jersey.
The development is thanks to the efforts of two South Orange women. Alexis Ritter Gubbay and Cheri Ambrose will take part this weekend in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Breast Cancer 5K in Parsippany.
"Finally, some blue coming through," said Gubbay, who, with Ambrose, established The Blue Wave, an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer in men.
"We're walking in support of all the men who have stood too long, silently, in the shadow of pink," Ambrose told Patch.
The matter is particularly close to Gubbay: Her husband, Judah, died of the disease in 2007. He was aware of a lump a year and a half before his eventual diagnosis, but neither he, his doctor nor an immediate family member in the medical profession considered the possibility that he could have breast cancer.
Now Gubbay has a message for men.
"Check your pecs," she said. "Pink or blue, men get breast cancer too.
"Male breast cancer is rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of all breast cancers. Due to this, and the fact that breast cancer has been branded a woman’s disease (with pink-only ribbons), men with the disease are often undiagnosed and their cancer is not detected until it has progressed to a later stage."
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012, about 2,190 new cases of male breast cancer will be diagnosed and that it will be the cause of approximately 410 deaths. This rate grows annually.
Gubbay and Ambrose will mark the week with walks and fundraising, but they note that support for The Blue Wave can take many forms. The two women suggest the following:
- Join The Blue Wave at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday. Meet at 8 a.m. at the Mack-Cali Business Campus, 1 Campus Drive in Parsippany. Find full details on The Blue Wave event page.
- Wear blue. Even if you can’t attend the walk, wear blue to show your support for Male Breast Cancer Awareness on Oct. 21.
- Tell 10 people that men get breast cancer too. Use old-fashioned word-of-mouth and share the message in your social media network.
- Visit www.TheBlueWave.org to learn more about male breast cancer. You can find out how to make a donation to fund important medical research, too.
- Stay current on the latest research and facts about male breast cancer. Like The Blue Wave on Facebook: http://www.TheBlueWaveMBC and follow The Blue Wave on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TheBlueWaveMBC. You can also stay up-to-date via email - send a message to email@example.com to subscribe.
- Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week is currently recognized in four states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Massachusetts. Contact your state and federal representatives and urge them to recognize this week as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
- If you are a guy, give yourself a breast exam or ask your doctor to perform one the next time you have an appointment. It takes just a few minutes, and it could save your life.